From Indian Navy to a CA: How this Ex-Serviceman survived a life threatening accident and qualified as a CA at 35

  • Hi! I am Dharamveer Singh, a chartered accountant (CA) and an ex-service member of the Indian Navy.
  • Inspired by my father, I joined the Indian Navy to protect my motherland and had a good time of learning for nine years until I met a life-changing accident that took away my mobility.
  • To escape the misery, I decided to pursue CA at the age of 24 and eventually qualified 10 years later, at the age of 35.
  • The journey was not all smooth sailing, but dedication pulled me through and today, I would like to share my journey of how, despite all challenges, I got my life together.

Joining the Indian Navy

Growing up, I was not that bright, but due to some fortunate turn of events, I scored exceptionally well in Grade 12.

What I thought was impossible, became possible and I ended up developing an interest in the Commerce stream.

Since my father was a service member, I used to daydream about serving in the Indian Defense Forces, protecting my motherland.

While pondering over whether it was a viable plan or not, I came across my father’s army combat uniform in all its glory and that was my final push.

After completing Grade 12, I assumed his role and enlisted myself to serve in the Indian Navy.

The training was no piece of cake. For the first year and a half, it continued to test our patience, sincerity, and courage. It was as difficult as it could possibly get, but the outcome is what kept me going.

The Navy dream became my reality, but that did not make me any less passionate about my academics.

Having a genuine interest in Commerce, I was keen on pursuing CA, but I already had a lot on my plate. Therefore, I put my CA dream in a box and threw it deep into the ocean.

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Facing a life-threatening accident

Everything was going significantly well, but every now and then, life strikes us down to remind us that it is not always fair.

The most unfortunate event took place, as I came across a life-altering accident in 2010, while in the Navy. I was only 24 years old.

My condition was so fatal that I had to undergo numerous surgeries on my hands, legs, and lower back. The accident stripped me of my mobility and I presumed my life would be pathetic and terrible from now on.

It was certainly not easy for me as a self-sustaining man to require other people to feed or help me with simple things.

The doctors informed my parents, “We are not sure if he will ever be able to walk again”. The look on my parents’ faces was enough to break me mentally.

My dad was 55 at that time and I had the responsibility to look after them. Therefore, I could not give up on myself.

I stayed bedridden for an overlong period of six months and my situation required me to be in hospital for over a year.

I knew I could not just sit and moan. It was during this time that I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy.

Not just my friends and family but also the Navy officers as well as the doctors showed genuine encouragement as they came to know about my aspirations.

This was another turning point.

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Pursuing Chartered Accountancy to ease the pain

My CA journey was slightly unusual.

When I started out my aim was not to become a CA instead it was a way of diverting my mind from all the depressing and negative spirits in the hospital.

Unlike others, I started my Common Proficiency Test (CPT) journey at the age of 24 and cleared my CA finals by the age of 35.

Despite taking longer than usual due to my unfavorable physical state, I never thought of giving up on my dreams.

During this 10 year CA journey, besides completing the 3-year mandatory articles training I worked on my health, fitness, and mind.

I had made up my mind and my primary objective was to pass all my CA examinations and make all of those great individuals proud who have been so supportive of me.

But unfortunately, I got stuck in the CA Final exams.

My CA final first attempt was in May 2016 and I cleared in June 2021. So I took more than 10 attempts just to pass the CA Final exams.

Sometimes I failed just by a small margin… it was heartbreaking but I never really kept the count of my attempts. I always moved on and gave my best in the next attempt.

I believe that the CA qualification will not guarantee a better future. Instead, it will serve as a license to many opportunities. So I took charge and stayed focused.

I saw a lot of my colleagues, friends move to great heights in their careers but I knew my time would come too.

In 2021, against all odds, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

I can proudly say that I have cracked the campus placement and got an opportunity to work at one of the renowned big four firms, EY (Ernst & Young). After a long hiatus, I have resumed my career.

Staying motivated

There is no such thing as being stuck in life. I have been there and if I made it through, I believe you have the ability to do so too.

Stay positive and focus on the bright side of life. Life has so much to offer and we should explore all opportunities.

For example, some CA dropouts establish successful start-ups. Even when they fail to complete the course, they make the best out of their lives. Do not be afraid of failure.

Lastly, it is never too late to start all over. You can choose a different career path at any age and under any circumstance.

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